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Chinese poem « Jing Ye Si » by Li Bai (with English translation)
Posted by: April.Luzheng (IP Logged)
Date: July 08, 2009 03:49AM
静夜思 Jìng yè sī

床前明月光, Chuáng qián míng yuè,
疑是地上霜。 Yí shì dì shàng shuāng.
举头望明月, Jŭ tóu wàng míng yuè,
低头思故乡。 Dī tóu sī gù xiāng.

Night Thoughts (by Libai - 李白)

I wake and moonbeams play around my bed,
Glittering like hoar froast to my wondering eyes.
Upwards the glorious moon I raise my head,
Then lay me down and thoughts of home arise.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/08/2009 05:08AM by Olive.

Re: Chinese poem « Jing Ye Si » by Li Bai (with English translation)
Posted by: Enricobrasil (IP Logged)
Date: July 08, 2009 10:51AM
I didn't like the translation... There are too many ideas that are not in the original poem.

Re: Chinese poem « Jing Ye Si » by Li Bai (with English translation)
Posted by: Ponpon (IP Logged)
Date: July 09, 2009 04:33AM
hehe,even kindergarten kids know libai and his jingyesi poem~~

Re: Chinese poem « Jing Ye Si » by Li Bai (with English translation)
Posted by: Tangerine (IP Logged)
Date: July 09, 2009 12:23PM
Yeah, even a 样鬼子 like me has known this poem since losing her liking for lollipops.
I agree with Enrico and want to add that the English is quite horrible. As translated, it’s the bed that’s glittering instead of the moonbeams. The third sentence is awkward. The “thoughts of home arise” in the fourth sentence is bloated and violates the basic premise of the poem in which strong emotions are expressed in simple language. Hence, “I think of home” would have done the job better.

Re: Chinese poem « Jing Ye Si » by Li Bai (with English translation)
Posted by: Enricobrasil (IP Logged)
Date: July 09, 2009 02:38PM
Well, unlike me, Tangerine, being a native English speaker, could express what I wanted to say in a better way... Specially with this sentence:

"the basic premise of the poem in which strong emotions are expressed in simple language"

I think the translator tried to rhyme head/bed, eyes/arise. Which suck, anyway...

Re: Chinese poem « Jing Ye Si » by Li Bai (with English translation)
Posted by: Tangerine (IP Logged)
Date: July 18, 2009 07:02PM
Sometimes you wish threads didn't get moved because it took me forever to come back here.
I found a much better translation that seems the prevailing one in the US.
Please note as well the change in title. The one in the original translation here isn't really English either. I hope you'll agree the translation is simpler and, as a result, more powerful. It's also closer to the original in Chinese:

Thoughts on a Still Night
Before my bed, the moon is shining bright,
I think that it is frost upon the ground.
I raise my head and look at the bright moon,
I lower my head and think of home.

Re: Chinese poem « Jing Ye Si » by Li Bai (with English translation)
Posted by: Zoo (IP Logged)
Date: October 22, 2009 05:12PM
Bright moonlight before my bed
Seems like frost upon the floor;
I raise my head and watch the moon,
Then lower it down and think of home.
------------------------------------------
This is by far the best translation I could find (made by Christopher Evans)

Re: Chinese poem « Jing Ye Si » by Li Bai (with English translation)
Posted by: Jaspersue (IP Logged)
Date: October 23, 2009 04:36AM
WHO TARANSLATE IT ? ITS TERRIBLE .

Re: Chinese poem « Jing Ye Si » by Li Bai (with English translation)
Posted by: Zoo (IP Logged)
Date: November 07, 2009 02:14PM
Hi Jaspersue,

do you refer to the translation I posted? Your comment is a little .... hm, shall I say "terrible"? Or "unqualified"?

There are different approaches for translating Chinese lyrics and it is always the question, which level of meaning you want to keep in the translated version. Most translations of the poem focus on the very surface emotions and try to put this "common sense" into a new form. As for the translation above the social aspects of the Chinese culture and the ways of expressing feelings are still present. It is also close to the reduced and frugal form of the poem. I like that.

Re: Chinese poem « Jing Ye Si » by Li Bai (with English translation)
Posted by: Zoo (IP Logged)
Date: November 07, 2009 02:29PM
Jaspersue, checked your profile, you are Chinese, right? Interesting, for many Chinese this poem is so overloaded with concepts, that is is hard for them to see behind and track back to its roots. And in today's education in China there is very little space for serious dispute of Classical Chinese literature (probably still more then in Europe, but not much).

Re: Chinese poem « Jing Ye Si » by Li Bai (with English translation)
Posted by: Xtaaxtw (IP Logged)
Date: December 17, 2009 06:26AM
Oh, NO! Li Bai's poems written in beautiful, but the translation...... I lack of something, there is no flavor of Li Bai's poems.sad smiley

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/09/2010 11:20AM by Olive.

Re: Chinese poem « Jing Ye Si » by Li Bai (with English translation)
Posted by: Zoo (IP Logged)
Date: January 23, 2010 08:52AM
The beauty of Li Bai's poem lies in its reduction to the very essential. Only with refined senses one will understand this beauty. How to transfer this into English? And then again, who will be able to understand these subtle differences in a translation?

Re: Chinese poem « Jing Ye Si » by Li Bai (with English translation)
Posted by: Roarke80 (IP Logged)
Date: February 12, 2010 11:49AM
I've come up with my own translation, trying to keep things simple, does this work?

A pool of moonlight before my bed
Shining like frost upon the ground
Gazing at the moon, I raise my head
And lower it again with thoughts of home.

It doesn't rhyme completely, I know. I love LiBai, what beautiful poems and simple powerful language.

Re: Chinese poem « Jing Ye Si » by Li Bai (with English translation)
Posted by: Daurora (IP Logged)
Date: March 13, 2010 08:00AM
Hello:

I would like to invite this group to my website which features English translations of ancient Chinese poetry.

[www.treeswoodsforests.com]

Re: Chinese poem « Jing Ye Si » by Li Bai (with English translation)
Posted by: Trien (IP Logged)
Date: June 26, 2010 06:17PM
English translations of Chinese poems by amateur people who called themselves 'sinologists' are sickening. Their translations always suck! Because they learned too much Ancient Chinese, too little Modern Chinese and their English is intermediate, so it's always horrible. They're just trying to cash in on something deemed by others as "exotic Asian fetish."

Re: Chinese poem « Jing Ye Si » by Li Bai (with English translation)
Posted by: Zoo (IP Logged)
Date: July 27, 2010 12:46PM
funny comments here
so what is it we want to preserve in the translation of this so extremely famous poem?
the spirit of the language?
or the imaginations that arise from the content?
as for me, the spirit of the language is the essential.
the rhythm in the language, the direction it takes.

so for me definitely Christopher Evan's version is the best I Know. By the way, he is not only an excellent translator of Chinese lyrics, but also quite an expert in Guqin music.

Here his translation again:

Bright moonlight before my bed
Seems like frost upon the floor;
I raise my head and watch the moon,
Then lower it down and think of home.

Re: Chinese poem « Jing Ye Si » by Li Bai (with English translation)
Posted by: Dontsome (IP Logged)
Date: August 16, 2010 11:17PM
Another Li Bai's poem:


Longlane Refrain by Li Bai



When I was young,

I often picked flowers and played at the gate of longlane.

You mounted bamboo horse and rode around,

Flinging a branch of green plum.

Lived door to door in our lane,

Two little friends we were.

When i was fourteen, i became your wife

But the shyness discouraged me from smile.

Head lowered, i refused to turn round

Even at your one thousandth call.

When i was fifteen, i was finally willing

To open my heart and go with you through thick and thin.

We have faith in each other

But feel sick at the thought of separation.

When i was sixteen, you sailed afar

To a colourful but dangerous world.

In may the hidden rocks made the dale untouchable,

And the sad cry of apes rose upwards to the cloud.

Every old path on which

You have trod is now mossy.

Every — too mossy to sweep,

And only falling leaves know why autumn wind comes so early.

In august garden, yellow butterflies

Decorate the grass.

I am dampened at the sight of all this,

Mourning desperately for the youth that never returns.

When will you come back from tribalm?

Please inform me with a letter.

To speak nothing of the distance,

I’d be waiting at longsandbar for you.

Source: ChinaLiterature

Re: Chinese poem « Jing Ye Si » by Li Bai (with English translation)
Posted by: Shoes (IP Logged)
Date: October 02, 2010 06:52AM
here's the one every chinese schoolkid learns, but it is still a good one.

夜思

床前明月光
疑是地上霜
舉頭望明月
低頭思故鄉

Ye Si

Chuang qian ming ye guang
Yi shi di shang shuang
Ju tou wang ming yue
Di tou si gu xiang

-Li Bai

Night Thoughts
I wake and moonbeams play around my bed
Glittering like hoarfroast to my wondering eyes
Upwards the glorious moon I raise my head
Then lay me down and thoughts of home arise

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/17/2011 07:20AM by Olive.

Re: Chinese poem « Jing Ye Si » by Li Bai (with English translation)
Posted by: Chenqian (IP Logged)
Date: October 02, 2010 11:02PM
In my opinion, the Chinese poem is not suitable to translate. You must to learn more Chinese and know the meaning.

www.presentalk.com

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 10/02/2010 11:06PM by Chenqian.

Re: Chinese poem « Jing Ye Si » by Li Bai (with English translation)
Posted by: Trien (IP Logged)
Date: May 16, 2011 09:04PM
夜思

前明月光
疑是地上霜
舉頭望明月
低頭思故鄉

IT is NOT 床!!! 床 = 广, a shed + 木, wood, which is NOT a bed!
, bed = 爿, pan, "chopped wood" + 木, wood [single piece of large wood compared to chopped wood]

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/16/2011 09:05PM by Trien.

Re: Chinese poem « Jing Ye Si » by Li Bai (with English translation)
Posted by: Billypeng (IP Logged)
Date: May 16, 2011 11:32PM
Quote:
@Dontsome: Another Li Bai's poem: Longlane Refrain
The following is the original Chinese version.
妾发初覆额,折花门前剧。
郎骑竹马来,绕床弄青梅。
同居长干里,两小无嫌猜。
十四为君妇,羞颜未尝开。  
低头向暗壁,千唤不一回。
十五始展眉,愿同尘与灰。
常存抱柱信,岂上望夫台。
十六君远行,瞿塘滟滪堆。
五月不可触,猿声天上哀。
门前迟行迹,一一生绿苔。
苔深不能扫,落叶秋风早。  
八月蝴蝶黄,双飞西园草。
感此伤妾心,坐愁红颜老。  
早晚下三巴,预将书报家。

 相迎不道远,直至长风沙。

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/17/2011 03:23AM by Olive.

Re: Chinese poem « Jing Ye Si » by Li Bai (with English translation)
Posted by: Bigoyjacob (IP Logged)
Date: May 31, 2011 06:26PM
I agree, this is the best translation

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/30/2011 09:42AM by Bigoyjacob.

Re: Chinese poem « Jing Ye Si » by Li Bai (with English translation)
Posted by: Buli (IP Logged)
Date: January 01, 2012 12:57AM
An intriguing thread and a tough crowd.
I will jump into the fray with my version
of << Jing Ye Si >>.

* * *

<< Reverie in the Night >>

Bedside bathed in moonlight gleaming.
--Is there frost yet upon the ground?
Head raised, I gaze at bright moon beaming.
Head bowed, I long for my hometown.

--Bu Li--

* * *

I wanted to make a translation that accomplished
the following:

1) Use simple, direct language.

2) Use contemporary vernacular.

3) Keep an immediacy to the words.

4) Employ rhythm common to english poetry.

5) Form natural, rhyming couplets if possible.

One point of departure that I have taken is in the
interpretation of Li Bai's thoughts. I took the
position that he awoke in the night and, seeing a
pool of light upon the floor, he was *reminded*
of frost rather than *mistaking* the light for frost.
I felt that he may well have started thinking of
home at that point and, wondering if there might yet
be frost on the ground in his village that night, he
raised his eyes to the moon, lost in memories, after
which he hung his head in longing for his old home.

Note on rhythm:

The poem is designed to have 8 beats per line.
"bathed", "raised", and "bowed" would be recited
with one beat each, ie. "rais'd", etc.

Notes on choice of wording:

Bed [side] : "qian" can mean before, front, etc.
I imagined that, if the bed were against a wall
(lengthwise) then the area before the bed *is*
also beside the bed.

Bathed : an alliteraive liberty that reinforces
the feeling of glowing moonlight.

Gleaming : "guang" --I always think of glowing,
radiance, brilliance, etc. In american english usage
we have so many common references using the word
gleaming. "...a gleam in her eye...", "...by the
twilight's last gleaming...", "...a gleam of hope...",
etc. It still has the power to evoke a wistfulness
and a sense of light.

The doubt, "Yi", is implicit in the construction
of the second sentence as a question.

Beaming : Although this is an addition, the word
beam is so naturally connected with the word moon
in American culture. Using the verb rather than
the noun keeps both the rhyme and the immediacy.

Home[town] : "gu xiang" is rendered as hometown
in dictionaries but the word town is also a very
evocative word in Americana. The play "Our Town"
is a middle school staple. Singers from Sinatra to
Morrisey sing about their towns. Using it here stays
true to both contemporary culture and preserves a
simple down-to-earth feeling. It is also a sufficiently
good rhyme with "ground" in common speech where
the "d" in ground is often omitted.

Thank You for reading!

--With respect to my fellow forum members,

BuLi winking smiley

Re: Chinese poem « Jing Ye Si » by Li Bai (with English translation)
Posted by: Savannah (IP Logged)
Date: January 03, 2012 09:21AM
The translation sounds rigid to me.

Re: Chinese poem « Jing Ye Si » by Li Bai (with English translation)
Posted by: Shanmarsh1 (IP Logged)
Date: January 22, 2012 05:57AM
Here are five simple ways to begin your English journey. ... When I was first learning Chinese, my Chinese teacher, Ren閑, had me memorize "Jing Ye Si" by Li Bai. ... I've uploaded two poems by E E. Cummings for you to practice, "maggie

Re: Chinese poem « Jing Ye Si » by Li Bai (with English translation)
Posted by: Navedtest (IP Logged)
Date: February 11, 2012 05:34AM
So bright a gleam on the foot of my bed –Could there have been a frost already?
Lifting myself to look, I found that it was moonlight.Sinking back again, I thought suddenly of home. Ontario G1 Practice Test

Re: Chinese poem « Jing Ye Si » by Li Bai (with English translation)
Posted by: Navedflash (IP Logged)
Date: April 07, 2012 05:19PM
I am happy to see that you have chosen a poem to translate that is not dependant on a place name or concept that is completely new to us, but instead ,translated this seemingly simple nature poem by Li Po. flash player free download

Re: Chinese poem « Jing Ye Si » by Li Bai (with English translation)
Posted by: Navedflash (IP Logged)
Date: April 07, 2012 11:58PM
I cannot imagine the difficulty of the task of translation from Chinese
to English. Li Po's works are amazingly affecting, and this example may lead many into exploration of this author's luminous writing Android Affiliate Program I have a favorite author, though as far as I know he has not written poetry.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/13/2012 08:14AM by Navedflash.

Re: Chinese poem « Jing Ye Si » by Li Bai (with English translation)
Posted by: Navedtest (IP Logged)
Date: May 19, 2012 01:19PM
I am happy to see that you have chosen a poem to translate that is not dependant on a place name or concept that is completely new to us, Omega 7 | Omega 7 Vitamin but instead , translated this seemingly simple nature poem by Li Po

Re: Chinese poem « Jing Ye Si » by Li Bai (with English translation)
Posted by: Navedflash (IP Logged)
Date: July 01, 2012 06:56AM
Da Chen, whose memoirs read like poetic prose and evoke intense nostaglia in the reader. Li Po's work here, Penny Auctions | Penny Auction Sites as translated by you, has an intense beauty, a breath-taking elegance that makes me want to revisit the lines again and again. Compelling, incandescent work, once more.

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